Safe Surfing for Children

In our last blog, we spoke about the risks involved with online gaming among children. The vast majority of what happens on the internet is good and safe and life-enhancing, but there are some risks which you can mitigate. Make sure your browser is set to offer you its built-in security, safety and privacy features. Allow search engines to filter out results that contain potentially harmful content such as sexually explicit images, racist content and material on eating disorders and self-harming. Without these controls in place, your child will almost certainly run into something that really isn’t appropriate for their age.

The internet is quickly becoming children’s preferred source of music, films and other forms of entertainment. There are several reasons you need to make them aware of the potential risks of doing so if they don’t know the rules. File-sharing websites and programs can cause problems in three ways. Free to use ones may be in breach of copyright laws, sharing content that can be illegal to download. Some websites are used to distribute pornography, racist or other inappropriate or unlawful material. Thirdly, these websites potentially enable strangers to gain access to your child’s computer, leaving it open to viruses, spyware and ‘botnet’ software.

Show your child where they can legally download music and video, such as websites like iTunes and Amazon. Additionally, you can rent age-appropriate movies for them from a choice of online services.

If you find that your child has been looking at or exposed to inappropriate content, do not assume that it was idle curiosity and talk through why it’s not a good thing. Talk about the kind of websites they look at. Encourage them to speak to you if they come across something they find worrying or upsetting. You can find further helpful information on websites like www.nspcc.org www.getsafeonline.org www.mumsnet.com

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